Hello Urban Plates Torrance!

Hello Urban Plates Torrance!

This August 12, 2019; Torrance will have the grand opening of Urban Plates; a restaurant that specializes in real food made from scratch. The location is perfectly situated at the newly revamped Del Amo Crossing; that is also home to newest 24 Hour Fitness in the South Bay.

There are various Urban Plates locations in California and Washington DC and with each grand opening they pair with a charitable institution that supports the local community. Urban Plates Torrance paired up with  The Volunteer Center; a local South Bay center that has core programs such as Food for Kids. Food for Kids by The Volunteer Center helps provides low income families in the South Bay with healthy meals over the weekend; helping kids be energized and ready for school on the weekday.

I was so fortunate to be a part of a pre-grand opening celebration this weekend courtesy of Urban Plates Torrance and The Volunteer Center. Not only was this event for a good cause; it truly showcased Urban Plates wonderful scratch made meals. Each dish is made out of some of the best ingredients such as grass-fed beef, sustainably sourced seafood, free-range chicken, and fresh produce.

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The first items I got to try during this sneak peak were some of their seasonal soups. First up was the Green Lentil. The Green Lentil has a nice variety of vegetables and spices. There are carrots, bay leaves, garlic, thyme and paprika. All of the ingredients come together for a nice, flavorful broth. I also tried their Tomato Basil. Here at Urban Plates; I loved that they added some coconut milk along with some pesto to make their tomato soup.

The next dish I tried was from their Greens section. The Greens section of their menu consists of hand tossed salads served with scratch made dressing. My choice of salad was their Asian Chicken Salad. This salad was quite a treat. It had lettuce, arugula, organic carrots, green onions, spicy peanuts, large orange slices, red bell peppers, cilantro, crispy wontons and grilled cage free chicken. The dressing was a spicy peanut dressing. This salad definitely had a unique spicy kick to it. It also had a nice crunchy texture thanks to the crisp lettuce, peanuts and wontons.

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For our main dish; we went with one of their hand carved sandwiches. Each of their sandwiches are served on grilled rustic bread and comes with kettle chips. We got to try the Grilled Grass Fed Steak. This was truly one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. It was so meaty and the steak was wonderfully tender. There was a delicious chimichurri aioli smothered on the bread and the meat was topped off with slow roasted tomatoes. Urban Plates definitely knows how to make a good sandwich!

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Last but not least, I had the Urban Cowgirl Cookie for dessert. This cookie is Urban Plates version of a trail mix cookie and had sunflower seeds, oats, dried cranberries, shredded coconut and a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. It was one yummy cookie that was a perfect ending to one yummy meal!

I am definitely looking forward to trying out Urban Plates again in the near future. I was impressed with their scratch made meals and I could really taste the freshness. I also was an instant fan because they chose to celebrate their opening with helping out the community via The Volunteer Center. Urban Plates Torrance is a true winner.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Urban Plates Torrance.

Hello Kitty Noodle Soup!

Hello Kitty Noodle Soup!

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Ingredients: hello kitty noodles, chicken, Vienna sausages, carrots, chicken stock

Brr…it’s cold! What’s perfect for the cold weather? Hot soup! What kinda soup is perfect for Hello Kitty Foodie? Hello Kitty Noodle Soup!

Awhile back, while shopping at a local Japanese market, I spotted a a cute little white box with a picture of a Hello Kitty Chef. Upon closer look, I saw it was a box of Hello Kitty noodles. I knew I had to purchase it for a future happy day.

For today’s cold day it was used it for some hot soup.
Unfortunately there were not many other items to put in this soup so it was a pretty simple one.

Diced Carrots and chopped chicken were sautéed until the chicken was golden brown and the carrots were tender. The chicken broth was added and brought to a boil, followed by the addition of sliced Vienna sausages. The Hello Kitty noodles were the final ingredient to be added and the broth was boiled gently until the noodles softened. Last but not least, the soup was served with a smile 🙂

Hello Jackson’s Food and Drink Tasting Dinner!

Hello Jackson’s Food and Drink Tasting Dinner!

Things I love: good food, good people and happy smiley moments :)…Thanks to Jackson’s Food and Drink in El Segundo, all those things I love came together last night.

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I was chosen to be one of the lucky to attend a special tasting dinner last night at Jackson’s Food and Drink. Chef Scott Cooper created a tasting menu with some of his newest dishes. Each dish was paired with a glass of wine that Chef Scott personally picked to complement his dishes.

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The first course of the night was a corn chowder soup with roasted pastille chile and queso fresco. It was paired with Villa Sandi Prosecco from Italy. The corn chowder was very thick and creamy with lots of little pieces of corn for a little bit of sweet and chile for spice. This soup actually had more of a spicy kick to it. The queso fresco on top helped balance the flavor more. The Villa Sandi Prosecco was my favorite wine pairing of the night. It was light, slightly fruity with a touch of apple flavor.

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The second course of the night consisted of a baby beet salad with greens, goat cheese, mandarin oranges and glazed pecans. The dressing was a citrus vinaigrette. There was also a little bit of rice wine vinegar added in to enhance the citrus flavor. This salad was the favorite of many that night. Juicy, large red beets, sweet mandarin oranges, crunchy pecans and soft goat cheese made for a very flavorful, colorful salad. This salad was paired with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

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The third course was a surprise course! We were originally going to have only five courses that night but Chef Scott came out with a new soup that he said we must try! I’m so glad he decided to do this because this course was one of my favorites. It was a tomato soup made out of chicken stock. It was garnished with sour cream and croutons. I’ve always been a fan of tomato soup and this one was one of the best I’ve had. It had a rich, marinara like flavor. It was so nice and heartwarming, making it perfect for a slightly chilly night.

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After the soups and salad were the main entrees. First up was the seafood entree consisting of seared sea bass with braised and grilled fennel, Pernod sauce and couscous with silvered garlic. As some may know, I do not like seafood and when this first dish came out, I could instantly smell the strong fishy flavor (eek). I was brave though and tried just a little bit of the Mexican white sea bass. From my very teeny tiny bite of the sea bass, I found the fish to be slightly hard. My non-seafood loving self moved on to eating the couscous and the fennel. I liked the crunchy fennel as well as the light, fluffy couscous. I was actually happy to have a little bit of the wine pairing, a Flora Springs Chardonnay from Napa Valley to help offset the strong fish flavor that this dish had.

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The next main entree was milk braised pork chops with homestyle gravy and creamy polenta. It was paired with Clos du Val Pinot Noir from Carneros, Napa Valley. Chef Scott told us for this dish pork shoulder was braised for three hours and one could instantly tell at first bite because the pork chops were so tender. I also loves the fried sage that garnished the pork chops. These pork chops went very well with the creamy polenta. I really liked the creamy, fluffy and very savory polenta. The Clos du Val Pinot Noir was the only red served that night.

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Last course or the night was a very amazing and intense dessert. It was Simon’s almond, bacon, toffee bread pudding with maple whipped cream. Simon is one of the chefs at Jackson’s and this dessert is one of his most special. It’s very unique. Lots of maple whipped cream topped a soft bread pudding. There were also plenty of crunchy almond, bacon and toffee. How appropriate the dessert had a little bit of bacon because my Hello Kitty twin Michelle was also in attendance at this dinner. Michelle is not only my hello kitty twin but also my fellow dessert fan/bacon buddy. Michelle and I have always bonded over dessert and foodie discoveries and this dessert both made us go ooh and ahh. Honestly I could not get through all if it. It was very good but also very sweet. Although the bacon made it unique, I think I could have gone with just bread pudding and a little bit of toffee.

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The yummy dessert needed some hot beverages to offset all the sweetness and so it was perfect that Jackson’s offered us Intelligentsia cappuccinos and lattes.

The cappuccino was beautifully presented. Tastewise, it had a slightly strong bold flavor.

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I preferred the latte! Simple, rich, tasty flavor, it made for a great ending to this six course dinner.
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I really enjoyed the tasting dinner at Jackson’s Food and Drink. I got to enjoy some tasty new dishes as well as converse with some other foodies. It was a night of many happy smiley moments :). Thank you so much Jackson’s Food and Drink for inviting me and letting me be one of the first to try some of your new dishes!

For more smiles, please read my recent Yelp review about the tasting dinner at Jacksons’s Food and Drink.

Hello Da Maat!

Hello Da Maat!

Brr! It’s cold but I feel all warm and fuzzy thanks to Da Maat!

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On a local quest for some hot soup during a rainy day, I found myself at Da Maat. Da Maat is a Korean restaurant in the South Bay specializing in tofu and Korean BBQ.

Upon entry, I was instantly pleased with the very neat and cozy little Korean eatery. To the left of the restaurant are picturesque paintings that look like windows and to the right of the restaurant are displays of various different bowls. I could not help but notice a pink bowl with a Hello Kitty like design (hmm wonder why I noticed that one ;). The display of bowls fitted the restaurant well especially since the majority of the menu is dedicated to various Korean soups.

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My meal here started with some complimentary tea. I love a good cup of tea during cold days and the warm cup of tea here did not disappoint. The warmth that it instantly brought was just an indication of more heartwarming eats coming our way.

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The server served the banchan next. There were seven little Korean side dishes served. There was oi muchim (spicy cucumber), goguma mattang (sweet potato in caramelized sauce), namul broccoli , sukjunamul (mung bean sprouts), Korean coleslaw, yangbaechu moochim (spicy shredded cabbage) and kimchi.

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My friend and I both decided to get soups from the soft tofu soup menu section. The soft tofu soup comes with egg that will get cracked and dropped into the soup that is served in a little black pot.

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The soft tofu soup also comes with white rice in a dolsot or Korean stone pot

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For the soft tofu soup, diners can choose their spice level from white, mild, medium, spicy and extra spicy. There are several types of tofu soup here.

My friend chose to get the seafood soon tofu with a white spice level or basically no spice.

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I chose to get the vegetable dumpling soon tofu with a mild spice level.

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My Korean vegetarian soup had plenty of plenty of soft tofu and three hearty vegetable dumplings.

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The soft tofu soups were served piping hot and were simply so comforting. The slightly spicy broth was very heartwarming and the perfect food for this rainy day. The soup along with the traditional banchan, stone pot rice and the cup of tea brought warmth to me and put a smile on my face.

It’s maybe raining outside but hello kitty foodie is all warm and fuzzy (and all smiles too :).

For more smiles, please read my recent Yelp review on Da Maat.

Hello Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot!

Hello Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot!

Ahh rain, cold early mornings and chilly evenings. It’s all an indication that winter is soon coming our way! Whenever the “ber” months come along, I am always on a lookout for places offering heartwarming soups. Today I found myself at a place perfect for winter! It is the new South Bay spot for hot pot, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot.

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At Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, they have soup bases prepared with broth that includes slow cooked chicken and beef bone marrow broth and different herbs and spices like garlic and cranberry. Customers get to choose what meats they want as well as add sauces from their sauce bar.

During my trip here, I chose to get the lunch special natural angus short rib. It came with fresh cut noodle, tofu, mushrooms and seasonal vegetables.

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From the sauce bar, I got chili oil, garlic, house sesame sauce, green onion, cilantro and sweet garlic sauce.

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Cooking hot pot is a lot of fun and quite and experience! The pre-made soup base comes out first and is placed at the tabletop stove. At Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, they say there is 36 different herbs and spices in their soup base. Yum!

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As the soup base started to get hot, I dropped in my meat and tofu to the pot! I chose to cook these first because they take the longest to cook.

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Next up, to go in the pot was the different veggies and potato.

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The last things I added were the cabbage and the noodles.

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Soon enough, I was on my way to eating a yummy hot pot. I loved that the broth seasoning! The different herbs and spices really brought out the flavor. Adding in some of the sauces from the sauce bar, enhanced the flavors even more. I liked the whole mix of meat, veggies and noodles! Overall, I was happy with how I got to customize my hot pot, cook it and watch it come together.

It definitely was a very fulfilling meal and I’m happy to have found a new place to bring a little warmth during the cold days that are coming up!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot.

Hello homemade chicken pho and chicken spring rolls! :)

Hello homemade chicken pho and chicken spring rolls! :)

Today’s culinary creation is homemade chicken pho and chicken spring rolls.

Ingredients for chicken pho: chicken, pho noodles, chicken broth, cilantro, garlic, onion

Ingredients for chicken spring rolls: chicken, cabbage, onion, carrot, green onion, vermicelli, celery

I am a big fan of pho and spring rolls and have frequented different Vietnamese restaurants around town. Today was the first attempt at home of trying to create a homemade version of some my favorite Vietnamese dishes.

First up for the pho was preparing and cooking of the chicken. Even at restaurants, I usually choose chicken over beef. Chicken tends to be leaner and not as fatty. After prep of the chicken, was was boiling the noodles. I made sure to get the pho noodles for this. I found it at a local 99 Ranch market. Once both the chicken and pho were prepared, the soup base was poured over both and the cilantro and onion were added on top.

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As for the spring rolls, I wanted to have vermicelli noodles as one of the ingredients. I am a big fan of Vietnamese spring rolls with vermicelli inside. I also wanted a healthier version of egg rolls and so instead of frying these, I put them in the oven. For about 10 mins at 400F, they came out crispy and tasty. I used sweet chili sauce for the dipping sauce.

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I had a lot of fun creating a homemade version of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. I know it won’t be the last time that this will be made ;).

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Hello homemade wonton noodle soup!

Hello homemade wonton noodle soup!

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Ingredients: chicken wontons, glass noodles, green onions, chicken broth

Today’s culinary creation is wonton noodle soup. This Saturday is proving to be a bit on the cloudy side and a heartwarming bowl of soup seemed to be the perfect solution.

Making wonton noodle soup is pretty simple. First up for this dish is cooking the glass noodles in boiling water. Once noodles are cooked, these get put to the side.
Next up is preparation of the chicken broth. The chicken broth along with the green onions are placed in the pot.
Once the broth simmers and the green onions are cooked, the wontons are added in.
Once the wontons are cooked, the glass noodles are added backed in.
The wonton noodle soup is best when served warm. It’s a soup that is sure to bring some sunshine to a cloudy day.